DILG files charges vs Olongapo City mayor for ECQ violations

Published June 24, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Chito A. Chavez

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Wednesday that it has filed charges against Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino Jr. before the Office of the Ombudsman for the issuance of local policies that violated national enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) protocols that were enforced by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

DILG Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said the charges were filed after Paulino repeatedly violated rules and regulations issued by the IATF and implemented by the DILG.

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)
DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya

He said the DILG first issued a show cause order last April against Paulino for organizing a mass gathering in the distribution of social amelioration cards (SAC) for the first tranche of the social amelioration program (SAP).

“In that instance, we already admonished him and warned him to fully comply with IATF regulations, otherwise we may be compelled to charge him,” Malaya said.

Notwithstanding that earlier admonition, Malaya said Paulino again violated IATF regulations when he issued EO No. 54, series of 2020 on May 21 allowing back riding or “angkas” in his LGU.

Malaya said EO 54 established a special pass issued by the Office of the City Mayor which allowed back riding in motorcycles in the city.

Malaya added that Paulino did not revoke the earlier EO and issued EO 54-A that “simply suspended its implementation until such time that it is consonant with the guidelines and regulations of the IATF-MEID, DOTr (Department of Transportation), LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board), DILG, or any other pertinent government agency.”

“The issuance of EO 54-A does not extinguish the mayor’s liability for issuing EO 54 which violated a clear national policy prohibiting back riding. In fact, in saying that it merely suspended EO 54 ‘until such time’ that it is consonant with national rules proves that he did not completely abandon the previous EO,” Malaya said.

“The EO issued by the Olongapo Mayor in May clearly runs counter to the directives of the national government that were earlier issued in March as well as the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act enacted on March 24,” he added.

Malaya said the EO of Paulino violated DILG Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2020-062 issued on March 21 directing local government units (LGUs) to strictly adhere to the guidelines issued by the national government in implementing local programs relative to the state of calamity.

He said the EO is also in contravention of DILG MC No. 2020-083 issued on May 18 explicitly indicating that: “While motorcycles are allowed, the ‘no backrider policy’ will be implemented.”

“We are dismayed because as the local chief executive of Olongapo, he should be the first to follow the guidelines issued by the national government. The Bayanihan Act passed in March mandates that all LGUs should act within the letter and spirit of all the rules, regulations, and directives issued by the national government and are implementing standards of community quarantine consistent with what the national government has laid down to address COVID-19. And yet he issued his own policies inconsistent with national policies,” Malaya said.

He said “that prior to the enactment of the Bayanihan Law, Proclamation No. 922 issued by the President on March 8 declaring a State of Public Health Emergency throughout the Philippines and Proclamation No. 929 dated March 16 declaring a State of Calamity throughout the country enjoined all government agencies and LGUs to render full assistance and cooperation, among others, to curtail and eliminate the COVID-19 threat.’’

Malaya said that it is for this reason that the DILG filed a complaint against Paulino for gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct, violation of Republic Act No. 11469, the Bayanihan Act, violation of Republic Act No. 11332, and open disobedience under Article 231 of the Revised Penal Code.

“The matter is now in the hands of the Office of the Ombudsman,’’ he said.

Malaya reminded all local chief executives (LCEs) to be consistent with national laws and rules not only to avoid future legal consequence but also to ensure that their local governments fully cooperate towards a unified, cohesive, and orderly whole of government response to defeat COVID-19 as mandated by the Bayanihan Law.